Post-Note


Update: I’ve been mulling this, and considering that an iPod Touch prototype with a camera popped up on a Vietnamese site last May and that the 3GS is still in the line-up, it seems unlikely that the iPod will get a high-res display soon – if only because it would eat significantly into the margins of something aimed at the €200 segment. So there goes my idea of a pocketable, resilient, multi-purpose device with a screen that is more than good enough for reading…

I think this is the first time I’m not going to bother watching an Apple keynote (i.e., actually grabbing the video off iTunes, sitting down on a couch and watching it on a TV). It’s not that the new iPhone isn’t better or that the idiots who outed it spoiled the surprise, it’s more about a) not finding it enough of an incremental improvement (I’ve been using other devices that beat it on just about all the specs, even though they’re not running iOS) and b) having better things to do with my time.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best iPhone ever. But it’s not enough of an improvement over the 3GS in real life yet (although I suspect that future firmware versions and new apps will make it a lot more appealing) and it has at least one major flaw as far as I’m concerned1 – plus there are other frontiers to explore.

Namely, the iPad. As much as I like mobile phones (which helps if you work in the industry), I’m a lot more interested in alternate computing models, and the iPad seems like the perfect thin client, even if it’s only a first iteration.

Thing is, Apple has pretty much spoiled things for iPad users by using such a high-res display on the new iPhone, if only because it’s likely to be a more pleasing experience reading on that than on an iPad despite the smaller physical size.

I’d say we’re one and a half to two years away from doubling the screen resolution on the iPad becoming viable, since manufacturing 2048×1536 displays in volume is likely to be a significant technical (and financial) challenge – not to mention adding snappy graphics to it – so we’re probably stuck with 1024×768.

Or maybe they’ll switch to something like 1280×962, which would be the next likely step up assuming they’d stick to a 1:33 ratio – but that would only add a few tens of ppi to the resolution…

These first-generation mismatches and the different contexts in which one would use each device have led me to think that I really ought to wait for the next iPod Touch and see what that’s like – the rationale being that I never carry my phone around at home, but that every single day I slip my 8GB iPod Touch into my pocket when I get there (because it’s sturdy, kid-proof and very easy to use one-handed).

In summary, my current view is that:

  1. For placing calls and checking the news while commuting, the 3GS is good enough, and I won’t really miss the improved screen or the better camera (at least not daily – plus I carry a real camera when I go out on weekends).
  2. For getting rid of the sucky netbooks, doing some proper writing while traveling, and taking meeting notes, an iPad would be nice (but nonessential, plus I’ll also have to factor in the usual short-term obsolescence of first-generation Apple products when I start thinking about getting one in earnest).
  3. For use in the unforgiving home environment (reading the news daily, doing my e-mail, drafting stuff, surviving kids), a fresh iPod Touch with an upgraded display would be a lot more practical than either of the above and likely cheaper, plus I can even see it replacing my Sony Reader on occasion.

Of course, only time (and available budget) will tell.

I am actually typing this on one of the sucky netbooks (it ate its SSD partition table again, and all I had handy was a Ubuntu image), so I can make do, but there is a certain cleanliness about not using a “normal” PC to accomplish the stuff I really want to do, and I’d like to get rid of all “conventional” machines outside the office (home or otherwise)…

1 Please don’t bother saying it’s based on a number of IP standards – if it doesn’t do video calls to the installed base (even if in a downgraded, but standard mode, which I suspect Apple will eventually add much like they did with MMS) then it’s fundamentally useless in real life now, whereas my Samsung and HTC devices do video calls to everything (including our corporate VC system) just fine – and if you really believe everyone will flock to implement FaceTime and actually get it done in such a way that it becomes a truly popular solution inside of a year, I have this bridge I can sell you real cheap.


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